If you’re heading to Mallorca for a spring cycling trip, be sure to make Son Brull a beer or food stop on your way back from a ride. Set in the hillside not far from Port de Pollenca, Son Brull is a restored 18th century monastery which has been sensitively converted into a boutique hotel and spa. Cycling up the imposing driveway you find yourself outside a stone courtyard which leads through to the infinity pool and terrace. It is a fantastic spot to end the day in a rather beautiful setting.
Not everyone knows that you can hike in Mallorca nor that its government provides stunning refuge accommodation for hikers along a well signposted route, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route of the Tramuntana mountain range. The refuges are typical rural manor houses located in beautiful surroundings within small villages or in mountains, like Escorca's 'Tossals Verds' refuge. The Port de Soller refuge ‘La Muleta’ is particularly stunning located as it is in an old 1912 built radiotelegraphy station located on Cape Groson, next to a lighthouse and is quite the perfect spot to catch the sunset at the end of a long walk. All the refuges have been recently refurbished so the conditions are very good with staff providing a warm welcome to tired walkers.
It all leaves you with a certain image – different from the standard - of a Mallorca where you walk, the route is very beautiful and scenic, and at the end of the day, tired, you come to these beautifully located refuges that are not only refuges but a place that lets you ‘experience’ food, meet other walkers and drink great cheap coffee.
To give some background, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route is a 132 km eight stage hiking route of medium difficulty which can be walked in parts or combined with other sightseeing. The five refuges - Can Boi, Muleta, Tossals Verds, Son Amer and Pont Roma – are all located in the northern rocky part of Mallorca which both needs tourists economically and landscape-wise remains unspoilt by the brand of tourism Mallorca has long been associated with.
Price wise, the dorms are all uniformly priced at € 11 a night with optional dinner at € 8.50 which is brilliant value for three courses including a carafe of wine. The refuges can all be booked online at: www.conselldemallorca.net/mediambient/pedra
Final point, the doors close at 10pm with the lights going out at 11pm. So if hard walking and early sleeping is your idea of a good holiday, do check out the link I have put below.
Santuari de Lluc, Mallorca, 525 metres above sea level, reached by an exciting, twisting road, or by a walking route through the Tramuntana Mountains, is a surprisingly large former monastery, now a place of pilgrimage, with simple accommodation in former monk's cells, with bathrooms en suite, at modest rates(book in advance). It has space, calm, striking buildings and interiors, and a good museum, from prehistory to modern times. Restaurants, cafes and a shop cater for varying numbers of pilgrims and visitors -- an evening meal at a table nestling against one of the surrounding wooded hills, with the sounds of goat-bells, followed by a walk up the paved path to a Calvary with superb views of the Monastery and the surrounding mountains, is an excellent prelude to a restful night's sleep.
Arta is a small, picturesque town in north east Mallorca. It is quaint, non-touristy and has charm in abundance. It is relatively easy to rent a lovely traditional house in the vicinity - we did, one with olive trees, vines, small pool and beautiful rustic character. The Sanctuary of Sant Salvador is worth seeing on top of the hill and the local caves are a must (Victor Hugo and Jules Verne have signed the visitors book!) It is a quiet unspoilt corner of the island, great for children, the locals love them. You can get to the coves and nearby beaches easily in a car and further afield are the sights of Pollenca, Soller and the wonderful Tramuntana mountains.
Soller is a small town that is a train ride away from the capital Palma. The train between Palma and Soller is an experience on its own as it is an old train that snakes through limestone mountains with some breathtaking views. Soller is nestled among mountains with several interesting walks for all abilities from simple strolls through olive groves to steep climbs. There is one nice walk to a small coastal village called Deia where Robert Graves lived for several years. Soller is a small atmospheric town with several hotels and small bars and is relatively underdeveloped compared to many more touristy areas in Mallorca. A great place to stay if you enjoy hiking and nature and want to get away from the more busy touristic areas of the Balearics.
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